TheOperational Code of John F. Kennedy During the Cuban Missile Crisis: A Comparison of Public and Private Rhetoric



This study examines the manner in which the Cuban missile crisis affected the belief system of President John F. Kennedy. The analysis uses data derived from primary source materials that have become available only in the last 2 years, in addition to well-known public statements by the president. The Verbs in Context System (VICS) was used to generate insights into how Kennedy's operational code differed across sources and changed during the period of the crisis. The results provide evidence of Kennedy's initial private belligerence and provisional support for the ‘Gettysburg thesis’ while calling into question some other potential interpretations of the effects of the crisis on the president's beliefs.